Former ICC president Ehsan Mani was against the overhaul of cricket’s governing body. He had demanded that the position paper should be subject to a review by an independent panel, but the Big Three — BCCI, Cricket Australia (CA) and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) — eventually had their way. Mani, ICC president from 2003 to 2006, has described the process as flawed and contrary to the spirit of the game. He also accused the three boards of undermining the ICC’s integrity. Excerpts:
How do you see the ICC restructuring?
I’m not concerned with the outcome if that is what the members genuinely want. I’m concerned with the fact that the ICC hasn’t acted the way it should have. It clearly indicates serious weaknesses in its governance. Three boards prepared the position paper and no one from the ICC was involved. They formulated the whole thing for their benefit and completely undermined the ICC’s integrity. The position paper should have been subject to a review by an independent panel before being tabled. The whole thing lacks integrity and transparency.
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This revenue sharing model is accepted in the corporate sector. In sports, La Liga follows this model. Why are you against it?
A world body can’t follow a local (football) league. Fifa distributes on a needs basis. Is this basis used in the IPL? The ICC has a responsibility to all its members, and also the Associates and Affiliates. Distributing revenue based on individual contribution is nonsensical. BCCI’s claim that because Indian economy contributes the most it should get the most money has no merit. Indian broadcasters are not part of BCCI. They pay large amounts because it makes economic and commercial sense for them. Nothing to do with the BCCI.
But isn’t India contributing 80 per cent to the ICC coffers?
Where does the 80% figure come from? Anyway, India is contributing but not the BCCI. There’s a big difference. India is contributing immensely because it has a vibrant economy and because there is a huge and passionate following for the game. But the BCCI is just a private entity. It is not generating revenue and it doesn’t own the Indian economy. It is opportunistically and cynically trying to reap the benefits of India’s rise as an economic powerhouse. The BCCI doesn’t need money. Others, especially the Associate and Affiliates, need it, but BCCI’s model is seriously flawed.
The ICC has said in its release that no member country would be worse off and a Test match fund would be available to all, except the Big Three.
The ICC has come up with half-truths. What it didn’t say was that those three boards, BCCI, ECB and CA, would be far better off than others and there would be huge inequality. Other members would be at their mercy. There is no mention by the ICC on how much worse off Associates and Affiliates would be compared to what they would under the current model.
Future Tours Programme (FTP) changes to bilateral agreements from the next rights cycle. Do you support this?
No, it creates scope for manipulation and corruption. Now the boards can pick and choose for a number of reasons, such as getting some members to vote in a particular way. Inducing boards to vote in a particular manner by offering a tour is, to my mind, bribery.
How do you see the revamps change the cricket broadcasting sceanario?
I don’t have much information about this, so won’t comment. I’ve heard that one particular channel, which is close to the BCCI, could be benefited. But I don’t want to go into this for the time being.